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PM George Papandreou`s intervention at the plenary session of the Eastern Partnership Summit (Warsaw, 30/9/2011)

By virtue of its location, Greece is uniquely positioned as a bridge linking the Eastern and the Mediterranean dimensions of Europe’s Neighborhood Policy and has promoted the development of both since the ENP’s inception. Therefore, we are very supportive of the strengthening of the Eastern Partnership (EaP) envisaged in the new Neighborhood Policy, based on our shared principles of liberty, democracy, respect for human rights and fundamental freedoms and the rule of law.
The re-launching and re-energizing of the Eastern Partnership, and of the European Neighborhood Policy as a whole, was long overdue. It was necessary in order to better respond to serious common challenges – political, economic, geostrategic, environmental or pertaining to security and energy – but also in order to better prepare for the future.
Structural reforms, internal political tensions, gas routes, energy supply, ecological risks, economic development, illegal immigration and organized crime, are only some of the challenges we are faced with in the framework of the Eastern Neighborhood Policy. Our engagement in the Eastern Neighbourhood is also a matter of consistency and credibility for the EU. Our strategic goal is and will remain the creation of a wider area of stability and prosperity, both in the South as well as in the East. This could only be done by boosting mutually beneficial institutional cooperation and by converging on a set of common values and standards, modeled on the EU positive paradigm and experience. Continue reading

Illegal Migration Action Plan on track

The Ministry of Citizen Protection, in a press release issued on March 9, reiterated that Greece with the assistance of the European Commission and European funding is making immense efforts to implement the Greek National Action Plan on mixed migration flows, despite the disproportionate burden that is being placed on the country as a result of the influx of a large number of irregular migrants.
The Ministry announced the new actions that are currently being implemented, stressing Greece’s commitment to deal with the problem as swiftly and efficiently as possible.

French Minister Visits Samos

(GREEK NEWS AGENDA) During his visit to the Aegean island of Samos, on Friday Sept 18th, French Immigration Minister Eric Besson, accompanied by Greek Caretaker Interior Minister Spyros Flogaitis, visited the Italian vessel of Frontex and the immigrants’ reception centre, pointed out that Greece is confirming its good name regarding hospitality issues.  Besson was in Samos for a briefing on the situation prevailing in this eastern part of Europe, in light of the meeting today, among European Union Interior Ministers on justice and domestic issues, to discuss the increasing illegal entry of foreigners from the Turkish coast.

Greece: Migrant Parents Learning Greek

MigrantsMigrant mothers and fathers of young children can enrol in a growing Greek language and history educational programme beginning in September 2009.  A continuation of “Mom Learns Greek,” which started in 2008, the new sessions have spots for 800 mothers. The project is organised by City of Athens’s Development Agency, and  Migrant Services, the Hellenic Migration Policy Institute and the Education Ministry’s Vocational Guidance Centre.  The 2008 programme began with one section and in January 2009 had grown to seven sections. In total, 740 migrant parents have taken part. Free of charge, it is part of the larger framework of the “Solidarity and Management of Migration Flows” of the European Fund for the Integration of Third-Country Nationals.  Athens Plus (3.7.2009): More migrant moms learning Greek  ( p. 17)

EU Aid for Migration Comes with Terms

(GREEK NEWS AGENDA)  The European Union through its representative Vice-president of the European Commission and responsible for justice, freedom and security, Jacques Barrot pledged to assist Greece in its efforts to deal with the influx of migrants, but said that the country must improve the process of reviewing asylum applications with the involvement of specialists, and make better provision for vulnerable migrant groups such as women and children.  Barrot, who is currently visiting Greece attending the works of the European Popular Party’s Study Days, met with both the Prime Minister and the Interior Minister, reassuring them that the European Union intends to pressure Turkey to honour its bilateral agreement with Greece. Barrot also said the EC would help Turkey strike up repatriation agreements with migrants’ countries of origin.  Kathimerini daily: EU vows to help with immgration; Greek News Agenda: Diplomacy on Migration & Illegal Migration: Going European 

Illegal Immigration: A Commmon EU Issue

(GREEK NEWS AGENDA)  Prime Minister Kostas Karamanlis stressed the need for immediate joint action by European countries to combat illegal immigration as he emerged from a European People’s Party (EPP) summit held in Brussels on Thursday: “It is an issue of European dimensions, which doesn’t concern only those countries that are directly affected and are now having to shoulder the greatest burden,” he emphasised. The two-day works of the European Council meeting under Czech Presidency in Brussels (18 – 19 June), attended by Prime Minister Karamanlis, center on Barroso’s second term as President of the European Commission, the global financial crisis, global warming and illegal immigration. The European Council has agreed to examine illegal immigration following the requests of Italy, Greece, Cyprus and Malta. According to the last outcome of the European Council , the 27 leaders have underlined that an effective European response based on solidarity and distribution of responsibilities are necessary to combat illegal immigration.

Greece on Illegal Migration

(GREEK NEWS AGENDA)   Greece received support from many countries, both from the Mediterranean region and from central and northern Europe, for its position that the issue of illegal migration and its handling requires European solidarity that must be shown in practice.  This is what Foreign Minister Dora Bakoyannis said following an EU General Affairs Council held in Luxembourg yesterday, ahead of the EU summit in Brussels on June 18-19.  According to the minister, this display of European solidarity could be shown through upgrading Frontex to manage the external borders of the EU – which in the case of Greece would mean greater presence of patrol boats in the Aegean – and the financial support to deal with the plight of illegal migrants.  Bakoyannis stressed  that immigrants are people with rights, desperate and lacking financially, who place all their hopes on a boat.  Bakoyannis also stressed that Greece’s intention is for specific references to be made in the final communiqué of the EU summit regarding the repatriation conditions, with the agreements that the EU must sign with the countries of origin. 

EU Cooperation on Immigration

(GREEK NEWS AGENDA)  “The problem is not a Greek problem, it is a European problem, because if one illegally enters Greece one also illegally enters the EU and the Netherlands,” said the Netherlands’ Deputy Justice Minister, responsible for immigration issues, Nebahat Albayrak, on Wednesday (May 27) after visiting an illegal immigrants’ reception centre on the eastern Aegean island of Samos.  “Certainly many problems exist, but we also have many possibilities for cooperation, not only on a bilateral basis, but also within the framework of the European Union between member-states,” added the Dutch official who earlier this week had talks in Athens with Interior Minister Prokopis Pavlopoulos and Deputy Foreign Minister Yiannis Valinakis.

Migration Front Line

GREEK NEWS AGENDA)   Interior Minister Prokopis Pavlopoulos has penned an article titled: “The migration front line,” in the daily “Guardian” (21.1.2009) on the issue of migration. Pavlopoulos acknowledges the problem of illegal immigration for both Greece and Europe, especially in these times of economic stress, as well as the necessity for co-ordinated action. Pavlopoulos mentions the specific measures the state has taken in order to cope with the increasing number of illegal immigrants entering Greece, i.e. the establishment of reception centres complying with UN specifications, the adherence of Greek legislation with the Geneva convention and other international treaties regarding asylum seekers and the “rational planning” of immigration policy. Furthermore, the minister stresses the need for closer collaboration with the European Union, focusing on the implementation of the European Pact on Immigration and Asylum. This entails the operation of Frontex, the right of immigrants to be treated on a case-by-case basis under international law, upgrading of living standards, and other requirements. Finally, Pavlopoulos refers to the selection of Athens as the venue for the Global Forum on Migration and Development, in November 2009.

Illegal Immigration Population in Greece

(GREEK NEWS AGENDA)   Hellenic Migration Policy Institute: “Estimate of the illegal immigrant population in Greece This paper calculates the number of illegal immigrants in Greece based on the Number of Foreign Students, on arrest and Deportation Data, on the Estimates of Immigrant Associations, on the Estimates of Local Authorities, as well as the Estimates of the Hellenic Police Force. There is now an extensive bibliography on modern immigration to Greece, which covers a broad range of problems relating to the inflow of large numbers of illegal immigrants after 1990, part of whom have become legal. However, limited efforts have been made to estimate the illegal immigrant populations existing in the country. The only safe estimates available as to the number of immigrants are those deriving from the three legalisation schemes and the 2001 census. During the 2001 census, 672,191 immigrants were in Greece (including those legalized under the 1998 legalisation scheme and those illegally staying in the country). 367,860 illegal immigrants applied for status in the legalisation scheme of 2001, but only 217,000 qualified for residence and employment permits. In the third legalisation scheme of year 2005, there were 145,000 applications, far below those of the two previous schemes. As a result of the three legalisation schemes carried out, a total of 604,215 valid residence and employment permits were granted to immigrants in Greece in 2005 and 695,979 permits in 2006. However, these data do not provide an accurate estimate of the illegal immigrant population, given that it remains unknown. The Hellenic Migration Policy Institute (www.imepo.gr)’s mission is to research and understand the phenomenon of migration and conduct studies, which contribute to the design and implementation of Greece’s  immigration policy. 

Greeks Returning Home from Beijing 2008

(GREEK NEWS AGENDA)  The 29th Olympic Games ended on August 24 after 16 days and 17 nights of sporting celebration. Although not equivalent to the Athens 2004 Olympic Games, the Greek harvest of medals is considered well satisfying. Greek athletes won two silver medals, one in rowing (Lightweight Men’s Double Sculls) with Vassilis Polymeros and Dimitris Mougios and another one in taek won do with Alexandros Nikolaidis winning his second Olympic medal after Athens 2004. Another two bronze medals were won by Sofia Bekatorou, Sofia Papadopoulou and Virginia Kravarioti in sailing (Yngling class), while our 2004 gold medal winner Chrysopigi Devetzi reached the third place in triple jump. With regard to the doping incidents, the International Olympic Committee has commissioned a full investigation over the Greek athletes who were disqualified facing charges of illegal substances use. IOC will recourse to the Greek courts, while measures have been taken in order to enhance already existing legislation concerning doping,this time introducing harsher penalties.  Hellenic Olympic Committee: www.2hoc.gr

Greece – Spain: Ties that Bind

(GREEK NEWS AGENDA)    Prime Minister Kostas Karamanlis and his visiting Spanish counterpart Jose Luis Zapatero yesterday called for the creation of a common European Union coast guard to curb illegal immigration but stressed that the EU should not become a fortress against would-be migrants. “Dealing with illegal immigration is not an issue that concerns only the coastal member-states of the European Union, given that illegal migrants can move freely throughout the EU,” Karamanlis pointed out, while outlining a drive to create a European system for monitoring borders and a European patrol network. Furthermore, the two leaders agreed that a very effective way to minimize immigration flows is to increase aid towards migrants’ countries of origin in order to boost development. Other issues on the agenda included the creation of a Mediterranean Union, climate change, rising prices in Europe, renewable energy issues and bilateral economic relations. Kathimerini daily: Spain and Greece unite on migrants; Athens News Agency: Karamanlis, Zapatero discuss migration, energy issues; Ministry of Foreign Affairs: Bilateral Relations Greece-Spain